Facts about France

About France

About France

Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. French people often refer to Metropolitan France as L’Hexagone (The “Hexagon”) because of the geometric shape of its territory.

France is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain. Due to its overseas departments, France also shares land borders with Brazil and Suriname (bordering French Guiana) , and the Netherlands Antilles (bordering Saint-Martin). France is also linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.

France is a unitary semi-presidential republic. Its main ideals are expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

France was the world’s foremost power from the latter half of the 17th century until the early 19th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries, France built one of the largest colonial empires of the time, stretching across West Africa and Southeast Asia, prominently influencing the cultures and politics of the regions.

France is a developed country, with the sixth (nominal GDP) or eighth (PPP) largest economy in the world. It is the most visited country in the world, receiving over 79 million foreign tourists annually (including business visitors, but excluding people staying less than 24 hours in France). France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members. France is also a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of the Francophonie, the G8, and the Latin Union.

It is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council; it is also an acknowledged nuclear power.

While Metropolitan France is located in Western Europe, France also has a number of territories in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the southern Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and Antarctica. These territories have varying forms of government ranging from overseas department to overseas collectivity.

Metropolitan France covers 547,030 square kilometres (211,209 sq mi), having the largest area among European Union members and slightly larger than Spain. France possesses a wide variety of landscapes, from coastal plains in the north and west to mountain ranges of the Alps in the south-east, the Massif Central in the south-central and Pyrenees in the south-west. At 4,807 metres (15,770 ft) above sea-level, the highest point in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, is situated in the Alps on the border between France and Italy.

Metropolitan France also has extensive river systems such as the Loire, the Garonne, the Seine and the Rhône, which divides the Massif Central from the Alps and flows into the Mediterranean sea at the Camargue, the lowest point in France (2 m / 6.5 ft below sea level). Corsica lies off the Mediterranean coast.

France’s total land area, with its overseas departments and territories (excluding Adélie Land), is 674,843 square kilometres (260,558 sq mi), 0.45% of the total land area on Earth. However, France possesses the second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world, covering 11,035,000 square kilometres (4,260,000 sq mi), approximately 8% of the total surface of all the EEZs of the world, just behind the United States (11,351,000 km² / 4,383,000 sq mi) and ahead of Australia (8,232,000 km² / 3,178,000 sq mi).

Metropolitan France is situated between 41° and 51° North, on the western edge of Europe, and thus lies within the northern temperate zone. The north and northwest have a temperate climate, while a combination of maritime influences, latitude and altitude produce a varied climate in the rest of Metropolitan France. In the south-east a Mediterranean climate prevails. In the west, the climate is predominantly oceanic with a high level of rainfall, mild winters and cool to warm summers. Inland the climate becomes more continental with hot, stormy summers, colder winters and less rain. The climate of the Alps and other mountainous regions is mainly alpine, with the number of days with temperatures below freezing over 150 per year and snow cover lasting for up to six months.

Lyon

Lyon

Why visit Lyon?

Lyon is a city in east central France. It is the third largest French city, the first being Paris and the second Marseille. It is a major centre of business, situated between Paris and Marseille, and has a reputation as the French capital of gastronomy and a significant role in the history of cinema. It is also the religious capital of France for the Roman Catholic Church.

Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Lyon forms the second largest metropolitan area in France after Paris, with 1,783,400 inhabitants at the 2007 estimate, and approximately the 20th to 25th largest metropolitan area of Western Europe. Its urban area (Région Urbaine de Lyon), represents half of the Rhône-Alpes région population with 2,9 million inhabitants. Lyon is also a major industrial center specialized in chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries.

Lyon Map

Lyon is the préfecture (capital) of the Rhône département, and also the capital of the Rhône-Alpes région. The city is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lyon is known to be the silk capital of the world and is a centre for fashion. It is also the international headquarters of Interpol and EuroNews.

Lyon’s geography is dominated by the Rhône and Saône rivers which converge to the south of the historic city center forming a sort of peninsula or “presqu’île”; two large hills, one to the west and one to the north of the historic city center; and a large plain which sprawls eastward from the historic city center.

To the west is Fourvière, known as “the hill that prays”, the location for the highly decorated Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica, several convents, the palace of the Archbishop, the Tour métallique (a highly visible TV tower, replicating the last stage of the Eiffel Tower) and a funicular.

Cathédrale-St.-Jean Lyon

To the north is the Croix-Rousse, “the hill that works”, traditionally home to many small silk workshops, an industry for which the city was renowned.

The original medieval city (Vieux Lyon) was built on the west bank of the Saône river at the foot of the Fourvière hill, west of the presqu’île. (This area, along with portions of the presqu’ile and much of the Croix-Rousse are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the peninsula (presqu’île) between the rivers Rhône and Saône is located the third largest public square in France, and one of the largest in Europe, the Place Bellecour. Specifically, it is the largest clear square (i.e., without any patches of greenery, trees or any other kind of obstacles) in Europe. The broad, pedestrian-only Rue de la République leads north from Place Bellecour.

East of the Rhône from the presqu’île is a large area of flat ground upon which sits much of modern Lyon and most of the city’s population. Situated in this area is the urban centre of Part-Dieu which clusters the former Crédit Lyonnais Tower (central France’s only skyscraper), the Part-Dieu shopping centre, and Lyon’s main rail terminal, Lyon Part-Dieu.

Lyon

North of this district is the relatively wealthy 6th arrondissement, which is home to the Parc de la Tête d’Or, one of Europe’s largest urban parks, the prestigious Lycée du Parc to the south of the park, and Interpol’s headquarters on the park’s western edge.

An Introduction to the French way of life

The French way of life

How can a country so plump with pleasant offerings harbour a people so fond of bickering? Truth is the French passion for life reaches to both extremes; the subtle enjoyment of all things fine and the vociferous discontent with all that is not exactly perfect.

For the visitor, political disputes, looming strikes and the cheese that has gone ‘off’ is not likely to be an issue accepting perhaps the bad cheese.

For the visitor, France promises to be a fountain of exquisite pleasure. A place where your senses thrill to new and unexpected surprises. This is the world of haute cuisine, haute couture, fine wine and fine art. Where gothic cathedrals and medieval castles fill your soul with inspiration and wonder.

Where alpine meadows lead from rustic villages to the snowy Alps. Where rocky windswept headlands protect sleepy fishing ports, and where glittering crowds strut the promenades of ritzy seaside towns. France is a basket of fresh bread and ripe cheese; of wineskins, hunting dogs and truffles; of trawlers and salty beards and strong tobacco; perfume, catwalks and celebrities le Mistral! Le Mans, Le Tour de France, Vendee Globe, Château Neuf du Pape, Champagne, Bordeaux, Brie, Camembert, Yves Saint- Laurent, Coco Chanel, Monet, Gauguin, Bizet, Debussy the list is exhaustive if not endless, but all represent icons of French culture that have reached beyond her shores to an appreciative world audience.

France, in the heart of Europe, is a destination fit for connoisseurs, gourmets and anyone who can appreciate good living.

The French way of life
Paris

The one and only Paris, the City of Light, admired for centuries as a centre for the highest order of human expression. Once a magnet for great artists, philosophers and all who aspired to gain a certain sophistication associated with French aristocracy.

Paris is a majestic city of grand boulevards and striking architecture with an unrivalled energy that still draws visitors numbering in the hundreds of thousands each year.

On the streets and in the cafes amid much gesticulating and excited expressions, frenetic Parisians seemingly indifferent to the grandeur of their city, go about their business.

Tourists, on other hand, are not hard to spot; they are normally standing awe-struck before one of any number of celebrated monuments, cathedrals, or buildings. Since the 3rd century when the Parisii tribe first settle on the banks of the Seine River, Paris has flourished and expanded its sphere of influence.

Having consolidated its political power and cultural prowess late in the 10th century, Paris became the capital of France. Its position as the nation’s premier city has remained undisputed ever since, despite periods of war, revolution, and foreign occupation. This alluring city in the north central portion of France, boasts so many remarkable heritage sites and stunning examples of modern architectural art forms, it would be an arduous task indeed to highlight each one.

Many, such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Grande Arche at La Défense, and the George Pompidou Centre are world-renowned.

The Louvre remains a sumptuous never-ending feast for the eyes. The streets, alleys and cafes of neighbourhoods like the Latin Quarter, Montmartre and Mon parnasse continue to entice visitors to experience the rich and colourful ambiance of past and present day Paris.

The Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes are the large forested parks flanking the city centre providing recreation and leisure opportunities to harried Parisians and curious tourists alike.

On the outskirts of Paris towards the southwest, is the fabulous Chateau Versailles of Louis XIV-not to be missed. Above all, Paris is an event that will remain etched in your mind long after you have gone back home.

Eiffel Tower

After a time wandering the hillsides and rustic villages of the Vaucluse surrounding the historical city of Avignon, the seaside communities of the French Riviera are the logical next step.

A great place to start is from the ancient seaport of Marseille, founded by Greek seafarers in the 7th century BC. It is the second largest city in France, and still very proud of its notorious proclivity to provoke Parisian contempt.

The winding roads along the coast from Marseille lead over hilly outcrops offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, past towns and cities and villas and mega yachts and beaches lined with glistening bodies. Flash cars and jet setters sparkle and shimmer among the crowds of vacationing Europeans in towns like St. Tropez, Cannes, Antibes (Juan-Les-Pins), and Monaco.

Nice is the principal resort city of the Cote d’Azur, and a great place to visit museums devoted to works of the 20th-century artists Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall. The Cote d’Azur is Nirvana for millions of sun-worshippers during the high summer season. The winter sun finds contented communities enjoying the peace and quiet of deserted beaches, ‘closed for the season’ shop signs and cooler climes.

Cote D'Azur

For a tour of quite a different order, visit the rocky homeland of the Celts, Bretagne.

From this northwest corner of France, at the top of the Bay of Biscay, a rugged coastline of sandy beaches and jagged rock extends south from seaports such as Brest, Nantes, La Rochelle, and Bordeaux to the elegant resort town of Biarritz in Aquitaine.

Bretagne features shellfish, crusty seafarers, windswept headlands and cozy cafes. A side trip inland from Nantes to Tours would gratify those seeking the delights of wine tasting by traipsing through some of the best wine growing regions of France (the Loire valley to Bordeaux). Biarritz, nestled in the southwest corner of France, is a perfect place for sorties in the Basque country and the Navarra region of northern Spain.

For access to the Hautes Pyrenees head east to Lourdes. A special feature of Lourdes is the grotto where the 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary. The medieval fortress town of Lourdes now attracts a multitudeof grotto-visiting pilgrims each year.
Bay of Biscay

Aside from the notable array of historic sites and museums, such as the illustrious restored 13th-century Cathedral Notre-Dame, considered one of the finest Gothic structures in France, Reims is the centre for Champagne production in France.

After all the ‘bubbly’ you can drink, consider the fine white wines of Lorraine-Alsace. A specialty of the countryside surrounding Strasbourg is the homemade sweet liqueur derived from the Mirabel fruit.

Considerable pride and secrecy veil ancient family recipes. Strasbourg, where yet another famous Cathedral de Notre Dame is located, is dandy city to spend time in.

Enjoy a little ‘pâté de foie gras’ with your ‘vin d’Alsace’ because Strasbourg is big on the production of foie gras (goose liver pâté). Should you decide the time is nigh to put aside the self-indulgent whims of gastronomy for those of fresh mountain air and vigorous alpine trails, climb the Alps a little further to the south.

French, Swiss and Italian Alps all come together near Lyon, France’s third largest city at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. Lyon, once an important centre for silk production, has turned to the manufacture of synthetic fibres today.

French Alps

Among the many exceptional museums of the city is the Historical Museum of Textiles. From Lyon, the road east leads to the majestic Alps; south, along the Rhône Valley through Provence to the Med; west, takes you to the Massif Central where sheep and goats roam, and where ancient underground chambers display prehistoric wall paintings of animals.

Visiting France can be approached from a thousand and one different ways under any number of themes. Whether your choose to meander through wine growing regions by river barge or cycle the rural routes of Auvergne, chances are, just over the horizon another dimension of this multifaceted country will attract your attention. The problem with France is, no matter how many times you visit, it keeps calling you back.

Astuces Français

French Travel Tips

Avant d’entrer dans les endroits à visiter en France et sa riche histoire, je Henry Badabing voudrais vous fournir quelques conseils de voyage français.
Arrivée

Selon votre nationalité, la durée et la raison de votre séjour en France, il peut être nécessaire pour vous d’obtenir un visa avant de quitter. Dans ce cas, vous devez demander au consulat français dans votre pays. Pour les citoyens des pays de l’Union européenne, une carte d’identité valide actuelle est suffisante. Toutefois, si vous êtes un citoyen d’un autre pays, un passeport est obligatoire, avec un visa pour certains pays. Pour vérifier si cela vous concerne, s’il vous plaît allez à: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/venir/visas

Aucun vaccin sont nécessaires pour entrer en France. Il y a deux aéroports internationaux à Paris: Roissy-Charles de Gaulle et Orly. Transferts à Paris peuvent être faites par une navette, en taxi ou, si vous arrivez à Orly, le métro.
Climat

La France est influencée par un climat tempéré. Continental France est divisée en quatre zones climatiques: océanique et le climat humide avec des étés souvent frais à l’ouest d’une ligne de Bayonne à Lille; climat semi-continental avec des hivers rigoureux et des étés chauds en Alsace, Lorraine, le long du couloir rhodanien et dans les régions montagneuses (Alpes, Pyrénées et Massif Central); climat intermédiaire avec des hivers froids et des étés chauds dans le nord et dans le Paris et les régions centrales; climat méditerranéen avec des hivers doux et des étés très chauds dans le sud de la France.
Devise

L’euro est maintenant la monnaie officielle de 12 États membres de l’UE (y compris la France). Euro (€) = 100 cents. Billets sont en coupures de € 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 et 5. Les pièces sont en coupures de 2 € et 1, et 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 et 1 cents.

machines automatiques de billets peuvent être trouvés dans la plupart des centres commerciaux. Bureau de change peut être effectué à toutes les banques et les bureaux de poste. «Les bureaux de change» (changeurs) peut également être trouvée dans les grands magasins, les gares, les aéroports et à proximité des sites touristiques.

Conseils de Voyage français, bien que le taux de change est fixe, les taux de commission ne sont pas. Ceux-ci doivent être clairement affichés. Principales cartes de crédit sont acceptées dans de nombreux magasins, hôtels et restaurants. Les commerçants déclarent souvent un montant minimum requis pour être dépensés afin de traiter un paiement par carte de crédit.
Temps

UTC / GMT (+1)

En France, l’heure d’été commence le dernier dimanche de Mars à 2 heures du matin. A ce moment, une heure est ajoutée à l’heure actuelle. DST (heure de l’heure d’été) se termine le dernier dimanche d’Octobre à 3 heures du matin. A ce moment, une heure est enlevée de l’heure actuelle.
Heures de travail

Les banques à Paris sont généralement 10h00-17 heures 00, du lundi au vendredi. Tout au long du reste de la France, les banques sont généralement ouverts 10 heures-13 heures et 15 heures-17 heures, du mardi au samedi. Les banques ferment souvent tôt la veille d’un jour férié.

magasins non alimentaires sont ouverts de 9 ou 09:30 à 6 ou 18h30 du lundi au samedi, et quelques grands magasins dans les grandes villes restent ouverts jusqu’à 11 h un ou deux soirs par semaine. Les petits commerces, en particulier dans les villes rurales, peuvent fermer pour le déjeuner et le lundi. Beaucoup de magasins d’alimentation ouverts dès 7 heures ainsi que l’ouverture le dimanche matin. Certains restaurants ont des horaires fixes servant des repas spécifiques. La semaine de travail moyenne est de 39 heures.
la communication

La France se classe au cinquième rang mondial en matière de télécommunications. Beaucoup de maisons françaises ont un «minitel’-un ordinateur relié à un téléphone offrant une grande variété de services, y compris les réservations de billets et d’achats à domicile. Le service de messagerie est efficace. Les visiteurs ne rencontreront aucune difficulté avec les services publics de télécommunication.

Toute la France reçoit les chaînes de télévision publiques France 2, France 3, Canal 5 / Art, et deux stations privées détenues, TF1 et M6. émissions supplémentaires par câble ou par satellite et des services haut de gamme tels que Canal Plus sont également disponibles.
Électricité

220V, 50Hz Apportez des transformateurs et / ou adaptateurs de prise murale adaptée à vos appareils.
La langue

La langue nationale officielle de la France est le français. La plupart des gens qui travaillent dans l’industrie du tourisme et dans des domaines connexes parlent anglais. De nombreux ressortissants français ont une bonne idée d’une autre langue européenne (allemand, italien ou espagnol). langues et variations régionales, y compris alsacien, basque, le breton, le catalan, le corse et l’occitan sont présents dans le pays.
Code vestimentaire

Conseils de Voyage Français: Mode connaît pas de frontières en France. Tenue est «de rigueur» dans les établissements raffinés. Si vous n’êtes pas sûr des exigences, il est conseillé de téléphoner au préalable.
Transport

Le réseau des routes et des autoroutes est très bien développé en France: près d’un million de kilomètres, dont près de 8000 km sont des autoroutes. Si vous voyagez dans une voiture de location ou Voyage-van, être conscient il y a habituellement un péage pour les voies.

Air France, la compagnie aérienne nationale, relie la plupart des grandes villes de Paris (en une heure en moyenne), ainsi que de servir les connexions entre les villes régionales. Pratique, rapide et confortable, le train est l’un des meilleurs moyens d’obtenir environ en France.

Le système ferroviaire est très développé (en particulier de Paris) et relie chaque ville soit par TGV ou TER (trains express régionaux). Les prix des billets varient en fonction du niveau de confort (il y a 2 classes) et l’heure de départ (heure de pointe ou non). Il y a beaucoup d’options de prix attractifs réservés aux voyageurs étrangers (Europass, Eurodomino, Inter-Rail), qui peuvent être obtenus à partir de votre pays d’origine avant votre départ.

Plusieurs villes en France ont des systèmes de métro ou de tramway et la plupart offrent des moyens complets de bus routes.These de transport servir les centres-villes et banlieues. Rapide et économique, ils sont la manière sans souci le plus pratique pour découvrir une ville.

A Paris, le métro est de loin le moyen le plus rapide et le plus pratique de se déplacer. Le service commence généralement autour de 5h30 et se termine vers 00h30. De nombreuses connexions avec le RER (réseau express régional) et les gares SNCF permettent Voyage facile aux banlieues. Ligne SNCF (Les portes de Paris): un billet acheté à la périphérie d’une gare de Paris inclut désormais également Voyage dans le métro de Paris et bus. Les cinq lignes (A, B, C, D et E) du RER (réseau express régional) traverser Paris et l’Ile-de-France durant les mêmes heures que le métro.

En règle générale, les bus fonctionnent 5 heures 30-20:30. La nuit, le «Noctambus» relie le centre de Paris à la banlieue. Vous pouvez demander une carte du réseau (métro, bus, RER) au métro ou gares RER (délivré gratuitement).

Pour les touristes de Paris Visite Ticket est valable soit pour 1, 2, 3 ou 5 jours consécutifs et permet Voyage illimité dans toutes les zones de l’ensemble du réseau (métro, bus, RER) et sur le Funiculaire de Montmartre.

Près de 15.000 taxis opèrent dans la ville. Vous pouvez les prendre de taxis (indiqué par un panneau carré avec Taxi en blanc sur un fond bleu) ou héler un dans la rue (à condition qu’il est disponible: le “Taxi” signe sur le toit est ensuite complètement allumé, et les petites lumières sous le signe sont éteints).

Paris a mis beaucoup d’accent sur les rues piétonnes et a tracé des chemins réservés aux cyclistes et rollers. Le dimanche, les routes par le côté de la Seine sont réservés aux piétons, cyclistes, rollers.

villes françaises encouragent activement l’utilisation du vélo. Déjà, Rennes, Strasbourg et Nantes ont augmenté le nombre de pistes cyclables, l’espace de stationnement pour les vélos créé, fourni des abris à vélo à proximité de stations de bus et de location sorties de cycle promu dans les parkings.
Établissements de santé

En cas de numérotation d’urgence médicale 15 (SAMU)

SOS Medecins (Paris – médecins d’urgence): 01 47 07 77 77 ou 0 820 332 424

SOS DENTISTES (Paris – dentistes d’urgence): 01 43 37 51 00

Il y a une variété de services médicaux disponibles pour vous en France. Les consultations et les examens par des médecins généralistes, spécialistes, dentistes, etc., ainsi que des installations de la salle d’urgence, seront fournis à tout centre hospitalier ou la santé. Vous pouvez également prendre rendez-vous pour la chirurgie, ou avoir un médecin que vous visitez à votre hôtel.

Les médecins sont soit enregistrées auprès du ministère de la Santé (leurs honoraires sont fixes), ou sont dans un cabinet privé (leurs honoraires seront plus chers). Il y a toujours un médecin sur appel, mais s’il vous plaît être conscient que des visites à domicile et des consultations sur les dimanches et les jours fériés sont toujours plus chers. Pour connaître les adresses et les numéros de téléphone des médecins locaux, demandez au poste de police ou composez le 15 (SAMU – urgences médicales).

Il y a une large sélection de pharmacies dans la plupart des villes. Bien que leurs heures d’affaires sont généralement les mêmes pour les magasins (9 h à 19 heures ou 20 heures), il y a toujours une pharmacie nuits ouvertes, le dimanche et les jours fériés.

Le remboursement des frais médicaux dépend de votre police d’assurance-santé. Vérifiez auprès de votre plan pour être certain que vous avez une couverture suffisante tout en voyageant.

French Travel Tips

French Travel Tips

Before we get into the great places to visit in France and its rich history, I Henry Badabing would like to provide you with a few French Travel Tips.

Arrival

Depending on your nationality, the duration and the reason for your stay in France, it may be necessary for you to obtain a visa before leaving. In this case, you should apply to the French consulate in your country. For citizens of European Union countries, a current valid identity card is sufficient. However, if you are a citizen of another country, a passport is obligatory, with a visa for certain countries. To check if this concerns you, please go to: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/venir/visas/index.html

No vaccinations are required for entering France. There are two international airports in Paris: Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly. Transfers to Paris can be made by shuttle bus, taxi or, if arriving in Orly, metro.

Climate

France is influenced by a temperate climate. Continental France is divided into four climatic zones: Oceanic and humid climate with often cool summers to the west of a line from Bayonne to Lille; Semi-continental climate with harsh winters and hot summers in Alsace, Lorraine, along the Rhone corridor and in the mountainous regions (Alps, Pyrenees and Massif Central); Intermediate climate with cold winters and hot summers in the north, and in the Paris and central regions; Mediterranean climate with mild winters and very hot summers in the south of France.

Currency

The Euro is now the official currency of 12 EU member states (including France). Euro (€) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Automatic cash machines can be found in most commercial centers. Currency exchange can be carried out at all banks and Post Offices. ‘Bureaux de change’ (moneychangers) can also be found in large department stores, railway stations, airports and near tourist sites.

French Travel Tips, although the exchange rate is fixed, commission rates are not. These must be clearly displayed. Major credit cards are accepted in numerous shops, hotels and restaurants. Shopkeepers often state a minimum amount required to be spent in order to process a credit card payment.

Time

UTC / GMT (+1)

In France daylight savings time starts on the last Sunday in March at 2 o’clock in the morning. At this time, one hour is added to the current time. DST (daylight savings time) ends on the last Sunday in October at 3 o’clock in the morning. At this time, one hour is taken away from the current time.

Business Hours

Banking hours in Paris are usually from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday through Friday. Throughout the rest of France, banks are usually open from 10 am to 1 pm, and 3 pm to 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Banks often close early the day before a public holiday.

Non-food shops are open from 9 or 9:30 am to 6 or 6:30 pm Monday through Saturday, and some large stores in big cities stay open until 11 pm one or two evenings a week. Small shops, especially in rural towns, may close for lunch and on Monday. Many food shops open as early as 7 am as well as opening on Sunday mornings. Some restaurants have fixed serving hours for specific meals. The average workweek is 39 hours.

Communication

France ranks fifth in the world in telecommunications. Many French homes have a ‘minitel’-a computer linked to a telephone providing a wide variety of services, including ticket reservations and home shopping. The mail service is efficient. Visitors will not encounter any difficulty with public telecommunication services.

All of France receives the public television channels France 2, France 3, Channel 5/Art, and two privately-held stations, TF1 and M6. Additional broadcasts by cable or satellite and premium services such as Canal Plus are also available.

Electricity

220V, 50Hz Bring suitable transformers and / or wall plug adapters for your appliances.

Language

The official national language of France is French. Most people working in the tourism industry and in related fields speak English. Many French nationals have a good notion of another European language (German, Italian or Spanish). Regional languages and variations, including Alsatian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican, and Occitan are present in the country.

Dress Code

French Travel Tips: Fashion knows no boundaries in France. Formal dress is ‘de rigueur’ in fine establishments. If you are unsure of requirements, it is advisable to telephone beforehand.

Transport

The network of roads and highways is very well developed in France: nearly one million kilometres, of which almost 8,000 kilometres are highways. If traveling in a rental car or travel-van, be aware there is usually a toll for thoroughfares.

Air France, the national airline company, links most of the large towns to Paris (in one hour on average), as well as serving connections between regional towns. Practical, fast and comfortable, the train is one of the best ways of getting about in France.

The rail system is very developed (especially from Paris) and connects every town by either TGV or TER (regional express trains). Ticket prices vary according to the level of comfort (there are 2 classes) and departure time (rush hour or not). There are many attractive price options reserved for foreign travellers (Europass, Eurodomino, Inter-Rail), which can be obtained from your country of origin before you leave.

Several cities in France have metro or tram systems and most offer comprehensive bus routes.These means of transport serve the town centers and inner suburbs. Fast and economical, they are the most practical worry-free way to discover a town.

In Paris, the metro is by far the quickest and most practical way of getting around. The service usually starts around 5:30 am and ends around 12:30 am. Numerous connections with the RER (Regional express network) and the SNCF railway stations allow easy travel to the suburbs. SNCF Line (Paris outskirts): a ticket purchased from the outskirts to a Paris railway station now also includes travel on the Paris metro and bus. The five lines (A, B, C, D and E) of the RER (Regional express network) cross Paris and the Ile-de-France during the same times as the metro.

Generally, buses operate from 5:30 am to 8:30 pm. At night the ‘Noctambus’ connects the centre of Paris to the suburbs. You can ask for a map of the network (metro, bus, RER) at metro or RER stations (issued free).

For tourists the Paris Visit Ticket is valid for either 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days and allows unlimited travel in all zones of the whole network (metro, bus, RER) and on the Montmartre Funicular.

Almost 15,000 taxis operate in the town. You can take them from taxi stands (indicated by a square sign with Taxi in white on a blue background) or hail one in the street (on condition that it is available: the “Taxi” sign on the roof is then fully lit, and the small lights under the sign are switched off).

Paris has put a lot of emphasis on pedestrian streets and has laid out paths reserved for cyclists and roller-bladers. On Sundays, the roads by the side of the Seine are reserved for pedestrians, cyclists, roller-bladers.

French towns are actively promoting the use of bicycles. Already, Rennes, Strasbourg and Nantes have increased the number of cycle paths, created parking space for bicycles, provided cycle shelters next to bus stations, and promoted cycle rental outlets in car parks.

Health Facilities

In case of medical emergency dial 15 (SAMU)

SOS Medecins (Paris – emergency doctors): 01 47 07 77 77 or 0 820 332 424

SOS Dentistes (Paris – emergency dentists): 01 43 37 51 00

There is a variety of medical services available to you in France. Consultations and examinations by general practitioners, specialists, dentists etc, as well as emergency room facilities, will be provided at any hospital or health center. You can also make an appointment for surgery, or have a doctor visit you at your hotel.

Doctors are either registered with the Department of Health (their fees are fixed), or are in a private practice (their fees will be more expensive). There is always a doctor on call, but please be aware that home visits and consultations on Sundays and public holidays are always more expensive. To find out the addresses and telephone numbers of local doctors, ask at the police station or dial 15 (SAMU – medical emergencies).

There is a wide selection of pharmacies in most towns. Although their hours of business are usually the same for stores (9am to 7pm or 8pm), there is always a pharmacy open nights, Sundays and on public holidays.

Reimbursement of medical costs is dependant on your health insurance policy. Check with your plan to be certain you have sufficient coverage while travelling.